Understanding the Differences Between Skids and Pallets
When you need to transport or store items in your warehouse or distribution center, two solutions that you have access to include skids and pallets. While some companies consider pallets and skids to be the same thing, they are often used for different applications. The skids that are placed in a warehouse are typically implemented as the permanent foundation for stacks of storage.
While skids offer numerous advantages, pallets are capable of being used for storage and transportation purposes. Before you buy skids or pallets for your facility, you should understand what these items are and how they can help you transform your warehouse.
Pallets vs. Skids: What’s the Difference?
While pallets and skids offer similar functionality, they are used for different types of applications. Pallets are horizontal platforms that are outfitted with a bottom deck that offers stability when moving or storing goods. The bottom deck ensures that front loaders, forklifts, jacks, and similar pieces of equipment can lift them.
Pallets are often used as the base for transporting, assembling, and handling products and materials. Even though the majority of pallets are built with wood, they may also be constructed with metal, plastic, recycled materials, and cardboard. If you select pallets for your facility, you’ll benefit from better stability, versatility, and functionality. It’s easy for forklifts and pallet jacks to move pallets. They are also durable enough to withstand many different types of palletized products.
When looking specifically at skids, they don’t come with bottom deck boards, which means that they are unable to provide you with the stability required to transport palletized goods. Even though you can boost the stability of skids by selecting the right type of wood and fastener, they’ll never provide the amount of stability that you receive from a pallet. Keep in mind that skids can’t be unloaded or loaded with a forklift without placing a certain amount of torque on the skid, which could cause the skid to break.
If you intend to use skids, they are suitable as a permanent foundation that you can place under heavy machinery. If you use a skid for storage, you can pull it into the correct position, which isn’t possible with a pallet.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Pallets
Pallets offer many benefits that aren’t available when using skids, the primary of which include:
- Pallets provide you with better efficiency in your supply chain
- These items are better when transporting heavy loads
- They are more hygienic when compared to wooden skids
Neither pallets or skids are great for the environment. However, a large percentage of wood pallet manufacturers are searching for ways to improve sustainability. If you’re comparing the costs of skids and pallets, skids are usually more affordable than pallets. You can expect to pay around $30-$60 for skids. On the other hand, pallets oftentimes cost around $100-$400 depending on the weight capacity you require.
Keep in mind that there are different types of pallets for you to consider, which include two-way and four-way pallets. Every wooden pallet is designed to be either a two-way or four-way pallet. Stringer pallets will come with openings on two of the four sides. A forklift’s tines can enter these openings. If a hand truck or forklift can only access a pallet on two sides, it’s considered a two-way pallet.
When a pallet is outfitted with notched stringers, forklift tines can enter on every side of the pallet, which makes it a four-way pallet. You can also obtain block pallets that forego the use of stringers for blocks that provide additional support to the deck. Every block pallet is a four-way pallet.
You can use both of these pallet types in many different commercial and manufacturing applications. The main reason why you would select one pallet type over another is because of how you expect the pallet to be handled.
The layout of your facility could make one pallet type better than another. In the event that you don’t have much space left in your warehouse, a four-way pallet is highly recommended since palletized products will be able to be moved in your facility in a more efficient manner. Some additional considerations to keep in mind include:
- Certain kinds of manufacturing automation only accommodate four-way pallets
- Forklifts require more space to effectively maneuver to the right position around a two-way pallet
- Two-way pallets are more affordable than the alternative
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Skids
If you’re thinking about using storage skids in your warehouse, the main benefits you’ll gain access to include:
- Cost-effective storage solution
- High weight capacity
- Less impact on the environment than plastic pallets
When you’re comparing wooden skids with plastic pallets, wooden skids are much more affordable. You can expect to pay around three times more to buy a plastic pallet. These pallets can only withstand loads of up to 1,500 pounds. In comparison, wooden skids are capable of handling loads that reach as high as 3,000 pounds. Plastic pallets are most commonly used in the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries. Wooden skids aren’t too harmful to the environment. Compared to other materials, wooden skids have a much smaller carbon footprint.
How to Choose the Right Option for Your Needs
If you’re looking to stack products for loading, unloading, or storage purposes, you’ll likely want to use a pallet unless cost is a main concern of yours. While skids were once a popular choice when storing all types of products, the introduction of more durable pallets to the market resulted in skids being phased out once forklifts became commonplace in warehouses and distribution centers.
If you have a relatively small warehouse that doesn’t use forklifts that often, skids may be the right option for you. Skids are relatively easy to move and often come with high weight capacities. If you intend to drag your cargo, a skid would be preferable. When lifting your cargo with a forklift, you’ll need to use pallets. Today, the majority of warehouses use pallets exclusively.
Before making a final decision, it’s important that you choose the right material and design for your needs. As mentioned previously, a lack of space in your warehouse means that a four-way pallet would be your best option. Being able to access the pallet from all sides with a forklift ensures that maneuverability isn’t an issue.
Whether you use pallets or skids, you’ll need to perform proper packing and securing when storing or transporting any items. When you place big loads onto pallets or skids, they should be secured with plastic stretch wrapping, which is more effective than fiberglass or metal banding. Because of the stretching capabilities of this wrapping, it can form itself around all different shapes and sizes of pallet loads.
The Future of Skids and Pallets in Material Handling and Transportation
Even though pallets have been widely adopted by most warehouses and distribution centers, skids will continue to have their place in warehouses depending on the application. The future of these items is mainly centered around the switch from wood to plastic. Over the past few years, the price of lumber has increased substantially, which has resulted in many manufacturers switching over to plastic. These pallets are appealing because they’re lightweight, hygienic, and more durable when compared to wood pallets.
Even though many people consider plastic pallets to be less sustainable than wood pallets, plastic ones have the potential to be more sustainable depending on how they are used and disposed of. Most plastic pallets are capable of being used for up to 10 years before needing to be replaced. These pallets can also be recycled, which means that they won’t go to the landfill.
Plastic pallets are comprised of polypropylene molding, which is easy to sanitize or pressure wash in the event that a hazardous spill occurs. In comparison, wood is a more porous material, which means that many contaminants are trapped.
A lumber shortage has been in place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While shortages have eased somewhat as the supply chain has improved, obtaining plastic is simpler and more affordable at the moment.
Skids and pallets are two different items that can be used for many of the same applications. Pallets have a bottom deck that provides more support and accommodates forklifts. While skids have the ability to store many different types of items, these items are unable to be transported by forklifts since they lack a bottom deck.
When you’re choosing between these two options, consider which factor is most important to you. If you have a strict budget at the moment, skids tend to be more affordable. They’re also suitable for smaller warehouses. However, pallets are better in most other situations.
Whether you purchase skids or pallets for your warehouse, it’s essential that you take the necessary steps to maintain and secure them. In the event that items aren’t properly secured to the pallet during transportation, they could fall off, which would create a hazardous situation for personnel in your facility.